Fiction

2016

‘The Finch’s Wedding and the Hive That Sings’ in Clockwork Phoenix 5 (ed. Mike Allen, Mythic Delirium). In the Cotillion, the Song is all. A commander bargains with an oracle for favorable omens, but her bid for war is complicated by that most difficult of all battles: marriage negotiation between the powerful. Poly marriage, politics, a theocracy of birds and music. Think WH40K, but queer and intersectional. 7,200 words.

‘That Which Stands Tends Toward Free Fall’ in Clarkesworld Magazine. In a not-too-far future, the geopolitical map has changed irrevocably and war has become the default. A retired soldier has spent years in Ayutthaya, avoiding her former duties, until they catch up in the shape of her commander and her AI child. Ghost in the Shell meet post-colonialism in Thailand meet lesbian soldiers. 5,800 words.

‘Dream Command’ on Harlot Media. Soldier women in a dangerous game. Military SF thriller in the near future, with a kinky queer bent (graphic sex). 6,700 words.

‘The Beast at the End of Time’ in Apex Magazine. As the world marches toward the guillotine of its finale, a beast wakes and a woman heavy with her mothers’ legacy seeks to repair humanity’s last refuge. A bit Jekyll-Hyde, a bit Beauty and the Beast circa nanomachine apocalypse, all lesbian. 4,000 words.

2015

‘The Occidental Bride’ in Clarkesworld Magazine. Heilui, a Hong Kong anthropologist, buys an ex-mafia Finnish bride. Her new wife Kerttu must learn to adapt to civilian life in an unfamiliar land, an unfamiliar culture… and perhaps together the two of them will catch the terrorist behind the war that sank Europe. 6,700 words.

‘The Insurrectionist and the Empress Who Reigns Over Time’ in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Yin Sanhi is the woman who foments and leads revolutions, knowing always that she’s one step from her fall – and Empress Narasorn proves her equal. Epic fantasy in 6,000 words.

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First impressions: Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

So, in a word, it’s really bad. I’m not sure I have watched anything this bad in quite sometime. You’ll also get the sense that you’ve seen this before. You can recognize the weapon design right away – steam, buckles, cables, it’s all heavily based on the 3D gear from AoT. 

The premise: the lands have been overrun by monsters and humans build ‘stations’ – cities with giant walls – to keep safe. Within the first episode, the walls have been breached and monsters pour in. Stop me if this sounds… familiar.

Oh, the girl in the steampunk miniskirt – her name is Mumei – is twelve.

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Harlot Stories

harlot

As per this letter from the editor, I’m going to co-edit the fiction section at Harlot Media along with Michon Neal. The house brand slants toward kinky, queer, sexy and politically incisive. As far as genre goes, noir, mystery, contemporary fantasy, magic realism, and cyberpunk would all be welcome. It doesn’t have to be erotica or focused on romance or even centrally kinky, but it can be. Secondary-world fantasy will be a hard sell. (I personally don’t mind it, but it doesn’t quite go with the site’s general tone.) Steampunk – especially Victoriana – is also a hard sell.

Length: 1500-6000 words. Anything longer than 2000 words will be serialized. Pay is negotiable and starts at a token rate (sorry!), and scales with length.

How to pitch: @ me on twitter and make sure I can DM you, and we’ll take it from there. If you have a completed story, that’s what I will want to look at. If you only have a pitch, send me the pitch and direct me to a sample of your writing – your bibliography or whatever else is available. I do prefer a completed story submission because I don’t want to say yes to your pitch and make you write a new story only for me to reject it (I will reject a lot of things).

Generally, I have a preference for writers who are queer or of color or both. #ownvoices is great. This isn’t a romance publication so I don’t require a happily-ever-after/happy-for-now ending, but I am not interested in straight writers sending in queer tragedy. I like style and dislike the idea that ‘style’ and ‘plot’ are somehow separate.

Submissions should be in .RTF, .DOC, or .DOCX. PDFs are not acceptable and never will be. At the moment, I don’t have a deadline for closing to submissions because this is still very new, though I do have a particular amount of inventory in mind. We’ll see and I will update this post as things transpire.

‘Dream Command’ on Harlot Media

This is my first ever publication on a non-SFF venue. It’s still science fiction, but it’s very nearly devoid of science fictional or fantastical elements. Quite pleasing, altogether. One day I’ll write real literature yet.dreamcommand_1

‘Dream Command’ was written before ‘That Which Stands Tends Toward Free Fall’, and shares common ground with the latter (soldiers, sex), though it takes place in a different future. For what it’s worth, ‘That Which Stands’ – well – stands alone entirely, while ‘Dream Command’ shares a continuity with ‘Vector’, ‘Five Hundred and Ninety-Nine’ and ‘Ningyo’. Yes, I know: they all take place in relatively near-future Thailand (‘Ningyo’ in near-future Hong Kong). The main difference is in the shape of geopolitics. The world of ‘That Which Stands’ has none of the magic-realist engines present in ‘Dream Command’; instead, it has nation-warden AIs.

As with most of my stories featuring lesbians taking place in the immediate contemporary reality or near future, I’m acutely aware of the femme-butch identity map (or scale, or whatever). Depending on where you are from, I suppose, that may or may not be an inescapable part of subcultural queerness. The default assumption is usually that a butch woman will pair up with a femme one. Whenever possible, then, I write stories where multiple couples are femme/femme or butch/butch or neither, or poly. The same holds true here.

dreamcommand

It’s a military SF thriller, but it’s also – as per tagging on Harlot – a queer, kinky story (whether it has sufficient sex to qualify as a erotica is your call). I had never written anything quite like it. Editorial guidance made me go outside my comfort zone, in a good way. A writer’s toolbox that doesn’t have a lot in it isn’t worth very much.

Altogether, I’m super delighted to have had a chance to work with Harlot, which is a most fine intersectional rag with best-in-class comment/community policy and timely commentary on transphobic bathroom bills, sex work, and decolonizing education. You can support them here.

Vinland Saga: ‘No one is your enemy. You have no enemies at all.’

At surface, Vinland Saga doesn’t seem very interesting. It’s a loosely historical manga that’s all about Viking warriors and glory in battle, and how the protagonist Thorfinn Karlsefni seeks retribution on his father’s killer. It features a lot of over-the-top ultraviolence, like men punching horses. It is page after page of Viking dudes killing each other bloodily while screaming about Valhalla, because of course. It is designed to make fanboys slobber all over themselves because woo, awesome. Panel after panel, the characters take their heroic code with deathly – and deadly – seriousness. Honor in combat! Glory in war! Final destination Valhalla!

But Vinland Saga is about something else entirely, and it lets you know very early on, even though – at that point in time – what it is really about seems to be one character’s mistake. A mistake that gets him killed.

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Cheap, good makeup: 2016

My post on skincare basics turned out to be pretty useful. I not-infrequently spot folks asking for foundation recommendations. What a good excuse. Let me help put together a face for you and see if I can’t make this, relatively, non-intimidating.

Foundation

  • Holika Holika Aqua Petit Jelly BB cream SPF20 PA++ ($10)
  • Missha M Perfect Cover BB Cream ($6) gives a matte finish, medium to full coverage, no clinging to dry patches. I can’t stand the ‘cheap perfume’ smell, but YMMV.
  • Holika Holika Petit BB Cream ($5) offers lots of different finishes and various levels of SPF.
  • Ettusais Mineral BB Cream ($22) is pricier than the rest but it justifies, IMO, and it’s still cheaper than the average mid-range foundation (which starts at $30). Matte finish without , awesome oil control, blendable with brush, finger, or sponge. Medium coverage.

You can use powder on top of your foundation or, if your skin is great and you don’t need a lot of coverage, simply put powder on top of your sunscreen. KATE High Grade Cover Powder ($18) does a decent job, as does Innisfree No Sebum Mineral Powder ($5.93). Both are pressed powder.

Eye products. For me, I think you ‘need’ one or two eyeshadow palette plus a black eyeliner, that’s it. Mascara’s nice but very fussy (and expires very fast). Powder eyeshadow lasts forever, if stored properly (i.e. in a cool, dark place).

  • Sleek i-Divine palettes ($12). Contains 12 shades. Check out Temptalia’s reviews for the Sunset and Vintage Romance palettes. I like Celestial for its duochromes, blues, and purples. The quality’s pretty decent for the price and so is the quantity, though I’m not a fan of their matte shades.
  • Zoeva eyeshadow palettes ($21.50). Contains 10 shades.  Rodeo Belle gives you both colorful and neutral (including one duochrome) while En Taupe and Cocoa Blend are closer to what you’d look for if you prefer Urban Decay Naked palettes. I’m really enthusiastic about Zoeva products in general (their Graphic Eyes liners are smooth, buttery, pigmented and come in interesting shades; think MAC Pearlglide and Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On) and their shadows are just as good. Pigmented, smooooth, adhere well, no fallout. Pretty, classy packaging.
  • Essence Gel Eyeliner in Midnight in Paris ($4) is a gel liner in a pot. It’s no-frills, not my favorite, but it’s functional and mostly stays put. It doubles as a black eyeshadow base.
  • Clio Waterproof Pen Liner in Kill Black ($7-10). Get the pen, not the ‘brush’ version; the ‘pen’ version is more pigmented and IMO sturdier. It’s black liquid liner that’s actually black, dries quickly, stays put.

Lipsticks. Most lip products in the cheaper range are pretty okay, honestly, and for the most part it’s not a category of products to splurge on. I tend to warn people away from lipsticks from NYX (soap smell), Catrice (slippery, doesn’t stay on), but otherwise the main distinguishing feature between the drugstore and the high end is the smell (the more expensive ones tend to use better fragrances, smelling like chocolate or raspberry rather than fucking dish soap. The higher-end also tends to be tasteless while some cheaper lipsticks taste, well, bitter. It all depends on your tolerance and preference. Temptalia reviews tend to make note of whether a lip product has any taste or smell.

  • Bourjois Rouge Edition ($10). Decent shade selection, comfortable, pigmented and very functional. The Rouge Edition Velvet is also worth a look if you’re looking for a liquid lipstick.
  • Revlon Super Lustrous lipsticks ($5-6) come in several finishes, have no smell and no taste. They are housed in plain black bullets and offer a ton of shades from neutral to vampy. They aren’t exciting or fancy, but they do what they do very well and you can usually find some kind of BOGO offer.

  • ARITAUM Ginger Sugar Tint Lip Balm ($6-7) is a tinted lip balm and gives a pretty sheer color payoff. It has no taste, smells pleasant, is decently moisturizing.

You can have a decent makeup routine for roughly $30-40 altogether. We could go on about the feminist problem of makeup or whatever but eh, if you want it for pleasure or require it for a formal/professional occasion, you do what you got to do.

CLAYMORE, in conclusion

When I reached the last page of Claymore, I was pleasantly surprised. This is a manga that’s spent so much of its time on women, on women together, sisters-at-arms and intimate friends, and (in one case explicit, in another subtextual) sex partners. But the protagonist, Claire, has always been – well – straight and signs pointed to the idea that she would come to center her life on a boy, Raki. (It would’ve been creepy, frankly, since she met him when he was a young teen while she was already an adult. It’s still creepy, because they do end up together.)

This didn’t happen at all. Raki’s still there and everyone assumes he’s her destined romance (although ‘everyone’ is all the other warriors, and to the very last woman they’re all completely fucked up and wouldn’t recognize that it’s kind of really, really creepy, mate), but he’s never central. There are bigger things to worry about and, toward the end, he becomes the only surviving male with speaking parts. And even then, only just.

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AMERICANAH, belatedly

I don’t say this kind of thing often (or probably at all), but Americanah may be one of the most important books I’ve ever read. It’s the kind of book that makes me look backward and wish I’d read it sooner, that I’d read it at a younger age, that it’d been one of my formative reads.

It is a book that’s easy to feel deeply, passionately for; it is a book that inspires fervor, in a way that’s both numinous and entirely down-to-earth. It’s a book to quote, a book to share, a book to luxuriate in. It’s a warm book, an incisive book, critical and loving all at once.

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